Labour rights activists at a discussion in the capital on Wednesday blamed the government as well as owners for increasing number of deaths of workers in workplaces in the country.
The Safety and Rights Society, a labour rights promoting organisation, held the discussion on ‘The state of labour and labour economy in Bangladesh 2017’ after unveiling their yearly report on workplace accidents in 2017.
According to the report, that SRS published after monitoring 26 national and local dailies between January 1 and December 31, 2017, at least 426 workers died in 321 workplace accidents across the country in 2017, compared to 382 deaths from 258 workplace accidents in 2016.
SRS executive director Sekender Ali Mina read out the yearly report and said they only tallied accidents that occurred inside the factory or any workplace.
Another labour rights promoting non-government organisation, Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation said at least 1,242 workers were killed in 2017.
OSHE Foundation officials said the number of death was higher as they followed ILO standards where death on the way to workplace and other means were also taken into account.
SRS survey found that death of 144 workers, the highest number, occurred at construction sites and 102 workers died in the transport sector.
Labour rights activists blamed lack of law, non-execution of existing law, insufficient compensation and punishment for accused in the existing law for the huge number of workers death in workplace.
Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra general secretary Wajedul Islam Khan said although life can never be measured with compensation, but one lakh takas as compensation for a dead worker was not expected.
Wajedul demanded compensation based on workers’ loss of earning and increasing the number of factory inspectors to ensure effective monitoring.
Referring to 300 factories being shut down following pressure from international brands and buyers leading to the unemployment of thousands of workers, he said that measures under pressure would never be sustainable.
Calling the existing amount of compensation of one lakh takas for a dead worker meaningless, Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies executive director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed said due to the low amount, most family members of deceased workers did not want to fight for compensation.
SRS chairperson and also Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir chaired over the programme. She blamed most lawmakers cum industrialists of the country for not being conscious about the protection of workers.
‘Represent country people and workers as a lawmaker, not the business community,’ Khushi urged.
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust honorary executive director Sara Hossain asked the government to provide responsibility to insurance companies for compensating workers.